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Under Their Skin by Dinah Lee Küng

Under Their Skin (2006)

by Dinah Lee Küng

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Under Their Skin is another work by our local writer, Dinah Lee Küng and it is just as enjoyable as AVisit from Voltaire. This novel, too, is centred on Geneva, where laser expert, Dr Roman Micheli has a monopoly in the field of removing skin blemishes.

Roman’s marriage to a WHO leprosy expert has lasted twenty years but Isabel is almost permanently on the move and we are discreetly made aware of Roman’s unfulfilled longing for a son. Roman’s practice is threatened, too, by the arrival on the Geneva scene of Isabel’s one-time boyfriend, the ‘Botox King of New York’ who is planning to open a chain of beauty parlours that will eclipse Roman’s more professional clinic.

The patients we meet range from Shino, a low class Japanese gangster who is brilliantly tattooed from head to foot, to the delightful violinist Mira Sullivan. Mira was chosen from an orphanage by her adoptive mother because of her port-wine stain, the same reason her birth mother abandoned her, and is reluctant to lose the mark that brought her into a new life.

The novel follows the various threads, sometimes with delicious humour (as, for example, Shino’s tattoos are removed from his most private places) to great pathos as we get to know Mira. The threads are brilliantly woven together in a very moving finale. This novel is tremendous fun to read. There is an added pleasure in the familiar Genevan landscape that is evoked throughout the novel and the gentle humour at the expense of the Swiss – like for example an interview that takes place with a police officer after an unexplained murder.
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Mordant, sophisticated romance with dry humour and inspired descriptions of the power of art (music) to awaken the soul.
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